Iran sets $150,000 compensation for Ukrainian Airlines victims

Iran sets compensation for downed flight’s victims ahead of the deadly incident’s one-year anniversary.

Rescue teams are seen on January 8, 2020 at the scene of a Ukrainian airliner that crashed shortly after take-off near Imam Khomeini airport in the Iranian capital Tehran. - Search-and-rescue teams we
Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps admitted that 'human error' led to the plane being shot down with two missiles [File: Akbar Tavakoli/IRNA/AFP]

Tehran, Iran – Iran’s government has pledged to pay $150,000 to each of the families of the victims of a Ukrainian Airlines flight that was downed by missiles over Tehran almost a year ago.

President Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet approved the sum, or its equivalent in euros, in a meeting on Wednesday, according to a statement published by the presidential office’s department of legal affairs.

“The compensation will not prevent following up on the judicial aspect of the issue in qualified courts,” the statement said, adding that the funds are ready, but did not provide a specific timeline for the transfer.

The office said the cabinet stressed that the funds must be paid to the families “without any discrimination based on nationality or citizenship, in accordance with the relative and implementable rules of the deceased’s countries”.

The Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, which carried 167 passengers and nine crew members, crashed on January 8 minutes after takeoff, killing all aboard.

After three days, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) admitted that “human error” led to the plane being shot down with two missiles.

The deadly incident came hours after the IRGC fired a dozen missiles at two United States bases in Iraq in retaliation for the assassination of top commander Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike ordered by US President Donald Trump.

The downed flight mostly carried Iranians, many of whom held dual Canadian nationality, as they headed to Kiev on their way to Canada.

Iran does not formally recognise dual nationality status, which had complicated the issue.

Government report finalised

Speaking to reporters following the Wednesday cabinet meeting, Iranian roads minister Mohammad Eslami said a thorough government report on the downing of the flight has been finalised.

“The final report has been printed out in English and submitted to all stakeholders,” he said, adding that the report will soon be publicised by Iran’s Civil Aviation Organisation.

An initial report released by the aviation organisation in late August had shown that passengers and crew were alive after the first missile hit the plane.

But the second missile, which hit the plane 25 seconds after the first one, sent the plane crashing.

Both engines of the plane were still working and the pilots were trying to turn the plane back around as it was still very close to the airport, the report said at the time.

Iran and Ukraine have held several rounds of talks in order to discuss the financial and legal aspects of the issue.

“Although paying compensation will not eliminate all the pain and suffering caused by this incident, we hope it will remind of the commitment to safeguarding the rights of all people and respecting humans,” the presidential office’s legal department said on Wednesday.

Iran-Canada political spat

Iran and Canada, which don’t have formal diplomatic ties, have had several political encounters over the downed plane in the past year.

Most recently, Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said earlier in December that he does not believe Iran’s destruction of the plane can be blamed on human error.

The minister, however, refused to elaborate, saying “we’ll let the process unfold”.
In a strong rebuke of the Canadian minister, the spokesman of Iran’s foreign ministry called Champagne’s claim “unacceptable” and “completely political and anti-judicial”.

“Canadian officials have had the most unwarranted interventions from day one and have tried to prevent the natural path of this issue being clarified,” Saeed Khatibzadeh said earlier this month.

Khatibzadeh also warned that Canada must be accountable for its actions and condemned it for supporting the US “maximum pressure” campaign of harsh economic sanctions on Iran.

Source: Al Jazeera